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Full text of "My Country And My People"

134      MY COUNTRY AND MY PEOPLE

mourning period for one's parents was three years, that of the
wife for her own father was only one year, if the husband's
father was still living. Typically feminine virtues, like obed-
ience and loyalty, were codified by Liu Hsiang in the Han
Dynasty, into something like a feminine ethics, quite distinct
from that for the men, and Pan Ch'ao, the woman author of
Women's Guide, was the great exponent of the "three obediences
and four virtues" of women. The three obediences were:
when a woman is in her maiden home she obeys her father;
when married she obeys her husband; and when her husband
dies she obeys her son." The last was of course never carried
out, owing to the superior position of the mother in the Con-
fucian scheme. In this Dynasty women who died for their
chastity were already officially honoured with stone pailou
or with official titles from the court. But women could still
marry a second time. .

In tracing the development of the theory of chaste widow-
hood, it would be dangerous to lend too much weight to
academic theory, for the Chinese are always a realistic people
and have a way of withering theories with a laugh. Practice
must have lagged behind theory, and even as late as the
Manchu times chaste widowhood was expected of the wife of a
scholar with official titles but not of the common women.
Even in tlie T'ang Dynasty the daughter of the great scholar
Han Yii married a second time. Of the T'ang princesses,
twenty-three married a second time and four of them married
a third time. But the tradition started in the Han Dynasty
centuries before was there at work, reinforcing the early tradi-
tion that men could remarry but women could not.

After this came the Sung scholars, who imposed a secluded
life on women and made the remarrying of widows a moral
crime. Worship of chastity, which they so highly prized in
women, became something of a psychological obsession and
women were henceforth to be responsible for social morals,
from which the men were exempt. More than that, women
were to be responsible for courage and strength of character
also, which curiously the men so admired in the gentle sex,
for the emphasis had shifted from women's ordinary routine
domestic virtues to female heroism and self-sacrifice. Already